Back at the start of the year, when motivation was all shiny and fresh, you set some big goals for your health and fitness. Now we’re a few weeks into 2019, that motivation may have dried up and whatever initial progress you saw has slowed to barely a crawl.
Here are 3 areas where your problems may lie, and what to do to get things moving again!
You’re not in a calorie deficit.
Your calorie deficit is what ultimately drives fat loss progress. Making sure that you achieve a consistent, small calorie deficit is key, and it’s surprisingly easy to bump over your target. Keeping a food log or tracking via an app such as MyFitnessPal helps you build an awareness of the food you eat and the habits you have. This makes it easy to see where things are going a little awry and start to make the changes you need.
You’re not prepping.
Proper Planning and Practice Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
You see where I’m going with this? Planning ahead, prepping your food and following that plan is a major part in making sure you stay on track. If you are new to doing so, start small. Try planning 1 meal a day, for example just plan your breakfasts, and make sure you follow the plan. Buy in all you need at the start of the week and nail that plan! Then after a couple of weeks building success with that, add a second meal and so on until you have your full week planned.
You can also make this easier by splitting the week into 2 and on Sunday you plan Monday to Thursday. And on Wed you plan Friday to Sunday. This makes the task a little more manageable and allows you to adjust to anything that may come up towards the end of the week.
You have too many nibbles.
That lick of peanut butter from the spoon. The “few” M&Ms. The couple of glasses of wine after that crappy day at the office. They all count towards your intake. And these can mount up pretty quickly.
Keeping track of your food, via a log or app helps you see these little snack habits creeping in, and if you are more aware of them, you can more easily change them.
You aren’t pushing yourself.
Training is about improving performance. You get stronger, more resilient and generally, more awesome. The happy side effect is that your body composition improves dramatically when your diet improves to focus on this performance aspect.
In order to see any progress on the training front, you have to aim to make a little progress every session.
That may be from:
- doing an extra couple of reps at the same weight as last time,
- doing an extra set,
- Increasing the load,
- improving the “feel” of the set.
However you do it, aim for a little improvement each session. One percent better every day.
You are too inconsistent.
Progress comes from practice. And that practice has to be regular to be of value. Training 2 days a week will get you a little progress, but it will be just a little. In order to see meaningful progress, you really need 3 good sessions per week, 4 would be into bonus time.
Scheduling your training sessions in, along with where and if appropriate, who with, sets your intentions for the week and makes you 3 times more likely to get the sessions done than if you just have a vague plan to train.
You value effort over intensity.
Effort is how hard the session is. High effort tends to mean working up a sweat with lower weights and higher reps. Useful for conditioning if done well, but you’re not going to challenge your body to get stronger or add lean mass.
Intensity is the percentage of your heaviest loads you can use. You want most of your work to be with weights you can handle for 4-6 or 8-12 reps, with a little higher rep work for some isolation exercises. If you feel you can do 3-4 more reps at the end of a set then you have to put the weight up and continue to challenge yourself.
Learn to value progress, not get comfortable at the same weights.
Your sleep sucks.
Sleep is the most undervalued tool in your fat loss and performance toolbox. If you get too little sleep, you get the following hormonal effects:
- The stress hormone cortisol goes up, disrupting insulin response. It also increases your cravings for energy-dense foods, so calorie intake rises.
- Ghrelin, the hunger hormone also rises, making you hungrier just at the time you want to crush a box of doughnuts.
- Leptin decreases. This is the hormone that tells you when you are satisfied after a meal. So not only are you more hungry, but the food you eat feels less satisfying.
- HGH – Human Growth Hormone helps you metabolise fat, and as sleep decreases your HGH levels also drop.
- Glucagon, the opposite of insulin, tells your body to burn fat. This decreases with less sleep, so you are less likely to burn whatever fat you do mobilise.
- If you are regularly getting less than 7 hours of good sleep each night, you’re making things way harder on yourself than they need to be. Switch off the TV, shut down the laptop, and get to bed!
You do too many average days and no rest days.
Your training days should be high intensity. Your rest days should be low intensity. You shouldn’t be having too many days in that middle ground of moderate intensity. Nothing happens there. It’s not high enough for your body to require adaptation to handle the stress better next time, and it’s not low enough to stimulate what recovery you do need.
You’re eating low nutrient foods.
What you eat aids recovery and provides fuel and nutrients for growth and repair. If your diet consists of a lot of highly processed foods that have plenty of carbs and fats, but little in the way of protein, vitamins and minerals, then you are losing out on a massive amount of potential growth and recovery, not to mention the health benefits that whole foods offer.
Hopefully these will help you get back on track!